Steroids are produced in the human body naturally. The anabolic steroids that athletes use are testosterone, and it is used to build muscle quickly. It was originally developed for the treatment of men who do not produce enough testosterone and to build muscle in concentration camp survivors. Athletes began experimenting with them in the 1940s. Steroids can be injected, taken orally or applied to the skin as a cream or gel.
Someone who is addicted to steroids can start using them because they want to improve their appearance or performance on the field. Over time, it becomes more dependent on “steroids,” but in a different way from someone who is addicted to heroin or opiates. Instead of experiencing a peak or a stop when taking them, the steroid user discovers that they feel better when he uses them than when he doesn’t.
What is steroid addiction?
Anabolic steroids are synthetic compounds similar to the male hormone testosterone. Like testosterone, anabolic steroids have the effect of muscle development and the growth of male sexual characteristics. Muscle growth is the anabolic effect of its compounds, while the growth of sexual characteristics is the androgenic effect.
Information on the addictive potential of steroids is still scarce, but the volume of evidence about this type of addiction is growing and rapidly gaining wider acceptance.
Two main factors that strongly support the hypothesis that steroids are addictive. The first is the behavior of some steroid abusers who continue to search for and use hormones, and the second is the existence of withdrawal symptoms when a steroid addict stops taking them.
Steroid use usually begins because people expect to improve their athletic performance or appearance. Many users feel that they are physically more attractive by having more muscle mass, while others may suffer from a condition called muscular dysmorphia because they think they are weak when in reality they are very muscular. This condition is similar to eating disorders of a person who thinks they are overweight when in fact it is very thin.
As with the other types of addictions, many steroid addicts continue to want steroids despite the serious health problems they have. Many varieties of steroids are illegal, and users put themselves at legal and financial risk, along with physical risk. The fact of ignoring the high risk of acquiring and consuming a substance is a strong indicator of the existence of an addiction.
Signs of steroid abuse
The signs experienced by a person who has become addicted to steroids are the following:
- Continue using steroids, despite the negative consequences
- Concern about getting the next dose
- The use of steroids becomes something that the user can no longer control
- Abnormal muscle growth speed and training intensity
- Withdrawal symptoms when the person stops using steroids
The causes of dependence
Doctors say that the increase in steroid abuse for teenagers is linked to the increase in young people’s obsession with body image. The need to improve athletic performance is another important factor that leads to the use of anabolic steroids. These two factors combined represent the major causes of dependence since a person is rarely willing to these two perceived improvements. Addiction becomes self-perpetuating while watching the “benefits”, but as with most drug addictions finally, the abuser must continue using it only to “stay”.
Steroid addicts may experience pain and have difficulty sleeping as a result of use. To treat these conditions, addicts can participate in self-medication. The same people who supply them with steroids can also be opioid sellers. This choice makes sense, as opioids relieve pain and make the user feel sleepy enough to go to sleep.
Complications and effects of long-term steroid abuse
There are a number of complications and health problems that are associated with steroid abuse, which include:
- bad breath
- heart disease
- male pattern baldness
Treatment and help for steroid abusers
A person who is addicted to steroids experiences withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop taking the substance. Until the body gets rid of steroids, the person may experience:
- steroid’s strong desire
- loss of appetite
- humor changes
Depression feelings are also common among those undergoing steroid treatment, and some patients experience suicidal thoughts. The treatment of steroid addiction should be done in a rehabilitation center where clients can be supervised during the withdrawal process. The steroid rehabilitation center will use a number of techniques for the treatment of addiction, including:
- anger management classes
- individual counseling
- family counseling
- medicines for anxiety and pain
Recovery and rehabilitation for steroid addiction
Once the client’s stay in a rehabilitation center is completed, a plan for follow-up care with a therapist has to be put in place to reduce the possibility of a relapse. Attending a 12-step program, such as Narcotics Anonymous is also useful. The addict may also choose to go to therapies instead of going to substance abuse recovery programs.